72 HOURS AFTER: Free to Harden Day 2 part 2
We’ve been roughly 72 hours removed from the whirlwind visit that was James Harden. While Harden joins a long list of NBA stars visiting our shores, adidas decided to do something different for the 2018 NBA MVP. While most fans were expecting to see Harden show off his world-famous step back or extended euro step, adidas created the Free to Harden Freestyle Hub. The SMX Hall was converted to a playland of sorts for Harden fans during this one-day affair.
Upon entering the space, you’re greeted with several massive LEDs showcasing Harden’s most memorable plays over the last couple of seasons. The tunnel leads you to the adidas Free to Harden store – where everything Harden – shirts, hoodies, shorts, and ofcourse footwear (the Harden Vol.3 and Harden B/E 3 were on display) were available for purchase. What made the space special were three things:
1) Exclusive Footwear + Apparel. While the footwear was a mix of past and new releases, the Harden Vol.3 ‘War Machine’ and another pair were available as an early release. Those pairs will eventually be available on a wider range come July 1st. adidas also sold the Free to Harden tee, another event exclusive that you can only get at the hub.
2) E-commerce Availability. At the center of the store were tablets where you can browse the adidas e-commerce store and make purchases. That can easily be done, everywhere, right? adidas upped the ante and offered vouchers that would give you an automatic 30% off your purchase that day.
3) Customization. Aside from making a purchase, you can also bring your apparel to the Customization center at the other end of the Freestyle Hub for customization. Whether you add numbers, your name or other adidas graphics, it’s entirely up to you. This definitely got us piqued, making the event much more enjoyable.
After the retail space, there were a couple more Harden-centric activities you can check out. Harden fan art were on display on one side while a Spincam 360 set up was situated for fans to get their Hard(en) on. If you sank your jumper at the Spincam 360, you had a chance to eventually play with Harden later that evening.
If you were done going through the Freestyle Hub, fans were urged to take their seasts and get the best possible view of Harden and night’s festivities. Several DJs and Bawal Clan performed at the hub, amping the fans up right before James Harden, Suzy, and Tony Toni took the stage.
While everything at the Hub was happening, we were joined by the rest of the media outlets for the official press conference. There, Suzy (89.9/Fox Sports) interviewed Harden as they talked about several things aside from the Free to Harden Tour. Similar to earlier that day, Harden was again engaged and did not disappoint. He seemed quite relaxed and playfully answered the questions from the media.
Amped up as he can be, James Harden finally got on stage and was greeted by a rowdy audience, once again welcoming the Bearded One to Manila. As mentioned, adidas worked the event quite differently this time around. James joined several adidas athletes to several shootouts and a game of B.E.A.R.D. What made the night even better was that he played with fans and made them do a couple of crossovers in the relay.
All in all, the Free to Harden Freestyle Hub was a welcome change. We finally got to see Harden let loose and be quite easygoing in front of the Manila crowd. While the tour kept us waiting, it was still a fun event that would hopefully change athlete visit format moving forward. What’s important here is that fans got to see their star, and that they get a chance to actually interact with him.
For more information and images from the event, check out our Instagram account or follow @kickspotting, and @buhaybasket.
photos by Lester Victoriano